This Just In
(1)Crack Smokers Risk Spreading Hepatitis C When Sharing Pipes
(2)Prescription Drug Use Up Among Teens
(3)Big Rise In Cocaine Use Among Soldiers
(4)Major Blow Struck Against Racist U.S. Crack Sentencing Rules

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 13 Dec 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Scott Sutherland, Canadian Press

A new study is providing evidence to support fears that the highly infectious and potentially fatal hepatitis C virus can be passed among crack cocaine smokers sharing pipes. "We have some initial evidence that a hepatitis C-infected crack smoker can, under certain circumstances, pass on the virus on to the pipe," said Benedikt Fischer, leader of a study released yesterday.

The director of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research said it affirms that oral crack users can pass on hepatitis C through risky crack-use methods.

"[That's] one of several steps necessary to transmit hepatitis C from one crack smoker to another by way of crack-pipe sharing," Dr. Fischer said.

The evidence comes from a new biological study of drug paraphernalia used by more than 50 inner-city crack users in Toronto last year.

It also comes as public heat over the distribution of free, safe crack pipe kits continues to inflame some Canadian communities. Ottawa scrapped its safe-pipe program earlier this year under political pressure at the municipal level, while a similar program in Nanaimo, B.C., was put on hold.

Dr. Fischer said he felt the study's results have implications and lessons for both scientists and public-health officials.

"Primarily, that in order to prevent the spread of hepatitis C in the high-risk population of street drug users, you need to not only focus on injection drug users but also on crack smokers," he explained.

The results are being welcomed by some at the leading edge of drug- intervention programs.

British Columbia's provincial health officer said evidence of the virus on the stems of crack pipes clearly helps the argument that hepatitis C can be transmitted between smokers of the concentrated cocaine concoction, sometimes known on the street as "rock."

"This study adds further support for interventions that are aimed at trying to reduce the spread of infectious agents between crack users," Perry Kendall said.




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Dec 2007
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 The Dallas Morning News
Authors: Laurie Fox, and Tawnell D. Hobbs, The Dallas Morning News
Referenced: The study

Prescriptions, Drugstore Items Easy to Get, Give False Sense of Safety

They find them in the medicine cabinet, on the Internet and even at gatherings called "pharming" parties.

They continue using them because they're the easiest kind of high: virtually invisible to parents and teachers. Young teens nationwide are increasingly turning away from traditional illicit drugs like marijuana and meth and instead abusing over-the-counter and prescription medications, according to a national survey on teen drug use released at the White House this week.

And the abuse is starting in middle school, younger than some parents may have thought, according to the study, conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Local drug treatment centers and school district educators say such national reports underscore what they're seeing on school campuses and what they're hearing from kids about weekend parties.

Substance abuse specialists talk of children who swap Adderall, a medicine for attention-deficit disorder, like baseball cards.

"I had someone taking a relative's heart medicine," said Sabina Stern, program coordinator of the Collin County Substance Abuse Program. "With some kids it's more common than marijuana. What's most stunning about it is teenagers don't really know what they're taking. Somebody says, 'Here, take a pill, and you'll like how it makes you feel.' "

Painkillers, Stimulants

The national study points to painkillers OxyContin and Vicodin, sedatives like Xanax and stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. One in 10 teens reported using Vicodin for nonmedical purposes within the last year. Use of OxyContin has increased about 30 percent since 2002. Many local agencies and school districts don't keep statistics on prescription drug use among students. But anecdotal evidence has been enough for some to launch powerful anti-drug efforts.




Pubdate: Fri, 14 Dec 2007
Source: Independent (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Terri Judd

The Number of Soldiers Caught Using Cocaine Has Risen Fourfold Since the Start of Operations in Iraq.

At a time when the military is overstretched on two fronts, the British Army is discharging almost the equivalent of a battalion a year because of illegal drug use, figures published today by the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute.

Experts have warned of an increasing level of combat stress among troops with many turning to alcohol and drugs to deal with traumatic illness. They say personnel are using them to self-medicate and escape an uncomfortable reality.

Professor Sheila Bird, a scientist with the Medical Research Council writing in the RUSI Journal, said: "Repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan... may have contributed to the markedly increased positive rates.

"Any recourse to illegal drugs to counter combat stress may also mean that, disproportionately often, drug-discharged service personnel will have mental health problems that emerge in the short or longer term."

Studies into compulsory drug testing of army personnel revealed that there had been a 50 per cent rise in those failing the screening from 517 cases in 2003 to 769 in 2006. But the trend is most apparent for the class-A drug cocaine -- which accounts for the majority of positive tests. The rate is up from 1.4 per 1,000 in 2003 to 5.7 per 1,000 in the first part of 2007. In 2006, cocaine accounted for more than half the failed tests (423), ahead of cannabis (221) and ecstasy (95). Other drugs taken included amphetamines, tranquillisers and, in one case, heroin. Figures up to October indicate that 2007 is following the same trend with 618 positive drug tests: 422 for class A substances, 20 for class B and 176 for class C.

Only last month the MoD confirmed that 17 soldiers from the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) tested positive for drugs after a rest period in Cancun, Mexico.

The Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former army officer, said the increased availability in society and improved testing accounted for some of the rise but so did the additional strain placed on soldiers. He said: "In the Army of my day operational tours come round say every two years, now they are going round every year. Whilst we came back with one or two dead and couple of wounded, as we saw from the [2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment] service the other day, they suffered nine dead and 50 wounded. This puts a stress and strain on people. They will alleviate that strain through the use of relaxants, whether alcohol, abhorrent behaviour or use of drugs. We need to recognise that there is tension relief going on and drugs are being used.




Pubdate: Thu, 13 Dec 2007
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2007 Independent Media Institute
Author: Bill Piper

In the history of the civil rights movement there are probably only a handful of moments in which the decision of a few policymakers propelled significant change forward. Think of President Truman's decision to integrate the military or the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Our nation recently witnessed another such moment when the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to apply recent sentencing reductions for crack cocaine offenses retroactively. Although the decision is only a partial step towards racial equality, it reunites thousands of families and sets the stage for Congress to enact major reform.

Predictably, Chicken Littles in the Bush administration have insinuated that 20,000 people will be released from prison tomorrow. That's just shock and awe. Retroactivity would actually be staggered over several decades, and the largest one-year release (possibly 2,500 people in the first year) is a drop in the bucket compared to the 650,000 people released from state and federal prisons last year because they had served their time. Federal courts will also have the power to deny a sentencing reduction to people who pose a risk to society.

The Sentencing Commission's decision came only a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal judges can sentence individuals below the guideline recommendation in crack cocaine cases. The combination of both rulings puts enormous pressure on Congress to change the statutory mandatory minimums that punish crack cocaine offenses 100 times more severely than powder cocaine offenses. That sentencing disparity is responsible for appalling racial inequities in the criminal justice system. Although the majority of crack users and sellers are white, more than 80 percent of people incarcerated in federal prison for crack are black.

Ironically, the biggest obstacle to eliminating the crack/powder disparity is probably not the Bush administration or law enforcement but House Democratic leadership. While the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to debate three reforms bills early next year, no hearings have been scheduled yet in the House. Many rank-and-file Democrats support reform, but leadership is reportedly reluctant to even debate the issue. Their silence gives the impression they don't care about reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

The struggle to bring some justice to federal cocaine laws is just one part of a bigger struggle to undo the damage being done by the war on drugs. In a recent op-ed in New Orleans' Times-Picayune, former ACLU Executive Director and current Drug Policy Alliance President Ira Glasser makes the case that drug prohibition is one of the major civil rights issues of our day.


The Sentencing Commission's decision is a good start in tearing down this new Jim Crow, but only Congress can repeal the laws that are the source of the problem.




Some surprising justice out the U.S. court system this week. The Supreme Court opened the door to reduce thousands of drug sentences in the U.S.; and a judge in Massachusetts actually ruled in favor of a business selling smoking implements. But, elsewhere, the paternalism of the drug war, and its incessant propagandizing (masqueraded as science), continues.


Pubdate: Tue, 11 Dec 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Linda Greenhouse

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday restored federal judges to their traditional central role in criminal sentencing.

In two decisions, the court said federal district judges had broad discretion to impose what they think are reasonable sentences, even if federal guidelines call for different sentences.

One decision was particularly emphatic in saying judges are free to disagree with guidelines that call for much longer sentences for offenses involving crack cocaine than for crimes involving an equivalent amount of cocaine in powdered form.

Both cases, each decided by the same 7-to-2 alignment, chided federal appeals courts for failing to give district judges sufficient leeway. The appeals court had in each case overturned a sentence that was lower than that provided by the guidelines. The two dissenters were Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Taken together, the decisions reflected the remarkable trajectory the court has traveled in the seven years since it overturned a New Jersey hate-crime statute on the ground that the law gave judges an unconstitutional degree of authority to make the crucial factual determinations that added a hate-crime "enhancement" to an ordinary criminal sentence.

Along with their diminished function under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which set up the federal sentencing guidelines system, federal judges appeared to have been all but ejected from their role at the heart of criminal sentencing.

Judges still may not impose sentences above the range written into law by Congress or state legislatures. But the decision on Monday gives judges broad discretion to impose sentences higher or lower than the guidelines, which are not statutes and are issued by the United States Sentencing Commission.




Pubdate: Sat, 08 Dec 2007
Source: Patriot Ledger, The (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Author: Tamara Race, Staff Writer

WAREHAM - Karen Fontana heaved a sigh of relief, then cried after Judge Thomas Barrett found her innocent of selling drug paraphernalia in her Pembroke smoke shop - a ruling that could protect other retailers hawking the items.

Police two years ago seized dozens of pipes, water pipes, rolling papers, scales and other items from Brennan's Smoke Shop, claiming they were primarily for drug use.

Fontana denied the accusation, saying she runs a legitimate tobacco shop and that the items are sold for tobacco use. She said she couldn't be held responsible for what some might do with the products once they left her store.

Ruling Friday in Wareham District Court, Judge Barrett said Fontana probably knew the items could be used for drugs. But, noting their dual uses, he said there was not enough evidence of that to warrant a conviction.

''The officers are not to be faulted for trying to keep a lid on drug activity in our communities,'' Barrett said. ''Using common sense, you can tell what these items will be used for.''

Barrett said there was no evidence that the items were kept in proximity to drugs or that Fontana or her clerks ever promoted the items for drug use. There was also no evidence of written instructions or advertising promoting the items for drug use, Judge Barrett said.




Pubdate: Thu, 6 Dec 2007
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Elizabeth Bernstein

Exploiting an Exception to Federal Privacy Laws, Schools Increasingly Notify Parents When Kids Are Caught With Alcohol

When Mindy and Tom Gunn sent their son away to college this fall, they expected the school to send them a bill. They didn't expect a letter saying he'd been caught drinking.

But two weeks after their son John enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the school notified them that the 18-year-old had violated the campus drinking policy. The letter encouraged his parents to talk to him about it. And it invited them to call a school official if they had questions.

"One of my biggest fears when we sent him away was that he'd get into the party scene," says Mindy Gunn, 48, of Janesville, Wis. "I was glad to know the school will keep track of what he does and let me know."

The Virginia Tech shootings and other tragic incidents on campuses this year have shown that many colleges and universities are reluctant to reach out to parents when there are signs of trouble, such as a missing or potentially suicidal student. Citing a federal law meant to protect student privacy, many schools rope off young people's records from parents and authorities. But in one area, administrators are increasingly exploiting an exception in the law that allows them to reach out: drinking and drugs. A growing number of colleges, such as Texas Tech and Ohio University, are deciding to call mom and dad about underage drinking and illegal drug use, often at the very first signs of trouble.




Pubdate: Thu, 06 Dec 2007
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company

What do suffering a traumatic brain injury and using club drugs have in common? University of Florida researchers say both may trigger a similar chemical chain reaction in the brain, leading to cell death, memory loss and potentially irreversible brain damage.

A series of studies at UF over the past five years has shown using the popular club drug Ecstasy, also called MDMA, and other forms of methamphetamine lead to the same type of brain changes, cell loss and protein fluctuations in the brain that occur after a person endures a sharp blow to the head, according to findings a UF researcher presented at a Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego this month.

"Using methamphetamine is like inflicting a traumatic brain injury on yourself," said Firas Kobeissy, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate in the College of Medicine department of psychiatry. "We found that a lot of brain cells are being injured by these drugs. That's alarming to society now. People don't seem to take club drugs as seriously as drugs such as heroin or cocaine."

Working with UF researchers Mark Gold, M.D., chief of the division of addiction medicine at UF's McKnight Brain Institute and one of the country's leading experts on addiction medicine, and Kevin Wang, Ph.D, director of the UF Center for Neuroproteomics and Biomarkers Research, Kobeissy compared what happened in the brains of rats given large doses of methamphetamine with what happened to those that had suffered a traumatic brain injury.



Mostly the usual this week: Another massive drug tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border; more well-loved narcotics cops whose friends and family can't believe they got mixed up in drug-related corruption themselves; and a governor gets involved in micromanaging punishments and favors in the drug war. Then a surprise: a judge throws out the evidence in a controversial drug search.


Pubdate: Fri, 7 Dec 2007
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company

Federal Agents This Week Uncovered a Drug Smuggling-Tunnel That Stretched Across the Border in Tecate.

TECATE - The tunnel opening cut into the floor of a shipping container here drops three levels, each accessible by ladders, first a metal one and then two others fashioned from wood pallets.

The tunnel stretches 1,300 feet to the south, crossing the Mexican border some 50 feet below ground and proceeding to a sky-blue office building in sight of the steel-plated border fence.

Three or 4 feet wide and 6 feet high, the passageway is illuminated by compact fluorescent bulbs ( wired to the Mexican side ), supported by carefully placed wooden beams and kept dry by two pumps. The neatly squared walls, carved through solid rock, bear the signs of engineering skill and professional drilling tools.

Shrink-wrapped bundles of marijuana, nearly 14,000 pounds worth $5.6 million in street sales, were found in the shipping container and in a trailer next to it, making clear the tunnel's purpose: to serve as another major smuggling corridor. Found Monday here in Tecate, it is the latest of 56 cross-border tunnels found in the Southwest since the onset of additional guards and fencing above ground after Sept. 11, 2001.




Pubdate: Sun, 9 Dec 2007
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Tim Eberly

If Isaac Saleumsy was a drug dealer, he wasn't a very good one.

Either that or he just didn't pay his bills.

The Marietta police officer rarely paid the monthly dues for his east Cobb County condominium - which resulted in a lien on his condo, and got his pickup truck towed this summer.

He also apparently struggled to pay his mortgage, as a foreclosure announcement for his condo ran in a local newspaper around the same time.

Saleumsy's money problems rankled his neighbors, but those who knew the 30-year-old cop say they never could have predicted he would be charged as an Ecstasy dealer in an international drug ring.

Neither could the police chief near Savannah who gave Saleumsy his first break in law enforcement and says he helped him land a position in Marietta.

"He was just a good, clean lad that I thought would make a good police officer," said Garden City Police Chief David Lyons, who hired Saleumsy in March 2004. "And he was a good police officer."

Saleumsy and 28 others were arrested last week in connection with a drug ring that ran like clockwork, federal authorities said.




Pubdate: Thu, 6 Dec 2007
Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Southland Publishing
Author: Jeffrey Anderson

A Family Searches for Answers in the Strange Death of a DEA Agent Known As 'Rubberneck' And 'Buckles'

The grieving father crushes a cigarette into a crowded ashtray on the kitchen counter and stares blankly at a tiny TV screen next to the sink. It's 11 a.m. on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, exactly one year since he last saw his son, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Jeffrey T. Bockelkamp, alive. Today the father, thin and expressionless, is drinking in the family home in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, a blue-collar suburb of Scranton.

Down the hall, the mother stands in the middle of a guest room she converted to a shrine to her dead son. She is revisiting the prouder, happier moments of his life - which ended last January 5 in a men's room stall on the 6th Floor of a Glendale office building. Dead by his own hand, according to an L.A. County coroner's report, Bockelkamp was buried in a closed casket.

The walls of the tiny spare room are cluttered with plaques and certificates such as the one commemorating the Southwest Border Initiative, an operation launched by the DEA's Los Angeles field office in 2003. Scrapbooks and framed photographs show her tall, handsome son front and center, often shirtless, his white teeth gleaming. "His friends say he was made to be an agent," says the mother, a petite woman who talks in clipped sentences.

In one photo, he is holding a trophy fish. In another, he is beaming amid a group of agents, clutching an ominously large automatic rifle. "He was the only one in his group certified to use that gun," the mother says. "No one wanted to touch it. He wouldn't sit behind a desk. He liked running and gunning."

Everything Agent Bockelkamp did in life, he did to the maximum, friends and family say: scuba dive-master, Kung Fu expert, prolific amateur photographer, a lover of women - often juggling several relationships at a time. "They were all quite taken with him," Terry Bockelkamp says of her son's many girlfriends, a thin smile conveying her motherly pride.

In this room, and in the minds and hearts of dozens of people whose lives he touched in profound ways, Agent Bockelkamp is an American hero: daring, thoughtful, and loyal - perhaps to a fault.

In the Glendale bathroom stall where he died, however, he very likely saw his life and a tarnished career flashing before his eyes. The DEA suspected him of theft, his family says, yet even if it's true, they cannot accept that he could take his own life - not without extreme duress or betrayal.




Pubdate: Sat, 8 Dec 2007
Source: Rutland Herald (VT)
Copyright: 2007 Rutland Herald
Author: Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau

MONTPELIER - Gov. James Douglas said Friday he does not see a contradiction in his handling of two major marijuana busts - one of which he criticized for alleged leniency and the other that he didn't.

This fall, when Windsor County State's Attorney Robert Sand, a Democrat, approved court diversion for a Windsor lawyer arrested with more than two pounds of pot and 32 growing plants, Douglas, a Republican, ordered state law enforcement to send all future marijuana cases from that county to state prosecutors.

But Douglas is poised to take no action after a Randolph man was given court diversion after police found him with 110 marijuana plants. That court decision was made by Orange County State's Attorney William Porter, a Republican.

Speaking on Vermont Public Radio Friday morning, Douglas said he directed marijuana cases in Windsor County to bypass Sand's office because of the prosecutor's alleged "blanket policy" to send first-time possession cases to diversion.

He added there are other differences between the two criminal cases, but when asked said he did not know the details of the Orange County case, in which three times as many marijuana plants were seized.

"We have a prosecutor who has had a blanket policy of deferring first-time marijuana offenses regardless of amount," Douglas said on the radio show.




Pubdate: Mon, 10 Dec 2007
Source: Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC)
Copyright: 2007 The Herald-Sun
Author: John Stevenson

DURHAM -- A rare decision was handed down in Durham County Superior Court last week, with Judge Ron Stephens ruling that police unconstitutionally searched a house before arresting a narcotics suspect.

Stephens then threw out evidence seized in the case, depriving authorities of the ability to prosecute Anthony Maxwell on charges of possessing cocaine that allegedly was hidden in his rectum.

Defense lawyer Bill Thomas successfully contended a police search warrant was "fatally defective in that it failed to allege any facts whatsoever" from which a magistrate could find sufficient grounds -- or probable cause -- to target Maxwell.

"Searches conducted without probable cause violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, which protect our liberty and our legitimate expectation of privacy," Thomas said after winning the argument.

According to court documents, it all began in April 2006, when police received complaints that a man in a wheelchair was selling marijuana from his residence at 1103 Fern St., Apt. B.




One cool thing about the Media Awareness Project news clipping service is that it exposes readers to cannabis-related news and opinions from around the world, including the orient.

However, MAP should not be blamed for the appearance of indoor "grow ops" in the U.K. and U.S. that appear suspiciously like those reported in British Columbia. Indoor grows look the same everywhere.

The highs and lows of Oregonian activist Paul Stanford were eloquently explored in a cover story of Willamette Week.

Authorities have unintentionally encouraged Afghan farmers to switch from opium poppies to cannabis. All concerned seem to concede that the substitution is, on balance, a good thing.


Pubdate: Tue, 11 Dec 2007
Source: Japan Times (Japan)
Copyright: 2007 The Japan Times
Author: Jun Hongo, Staff writer

A Justice Ministry report released last month says the number of Cannabis Control Law violations set a record in 2006, while the amount of marijuana seized dropped to half from the previous year.

Some experts fear this indicates a rise in casual marijuana use by a broader population.

Following are basic questions and answers about cannabis in Japan:


What Are Recent Trends in Illegal Marijuana Use in Japan?

The Justice Ministry's latest white paper on crime, released in November, reported a record 2,423 cases of violations in 2006, up from 2,063 in 2005. However, in 2006, only 421 kg of marijuana was confiscated, compared with 972 kg in 2005 and 1,055 kg in 2004.

How Much Does Marijuana Cost in Japan?

According to a U.N. report, a gram costs an average of $58.30 in Japan, compared with $9.80 in the Netherlands and $20.50 in Singapore.

In Mexico, where 1,781 tons of marijuana were seized in 2005, or 38 percent of total worldwide confiscations, the wholesale price for a kilogram was $79.

"In a sense, police are contributing to the high price of marijuana in Japan because of the tough regulations. And the high cost translates into more profit for criminal syndicates," said Koichi Maeda, an advocate of decriminalizing marijuana possession.

Is Anyone Trying to Decriminalize Possession?

Approximately 500 people paraded in Tokyo last May during Marijuana March 2007, in which they called for decriminalization of possession and use of pot.

Maeda, who owns a shop and restaurant in Tokyo that legally sells hemp products, cosmetics and hemp cuisine, wants the Justice Ministry to no longer handle marijuana possession cases in the same way as that of amphetamine or other heavy drug use.

"Research for medical use of marijuana is not uncommon overseas. (Possession) is not something that someone should be imprisoned for," Maeda said.




Pubdate: Sun, 9 Dec 2007
Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Fresno Bee
Author: James Guy, The Fresno Bee

THEY didn't look like multimillion-dollar homes -- just two new tract houses in northwest and southeast Fresno. But inside both, police found millions of dollars in potent marijuana -- and indications that a new way of growing it is catching on in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Indoor marijuana farms allow organized criminal groups to grow powerful new strains of the drug faster, more profitably and with less risk than an outdoor garden.

"You can harvest a crop every three months, and after a year, walk away with $1.5 million," said Robert Pennal of the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

This isn't like the 1980s, when there might be a plant or two growing under a light in a closet, police say.

Typically, no one lives in these homes, which are filled wall-to-wall with plants. Often, the homes are visited just a few times a week at odd hours by cultivators who keep a low profile and avoid neighbors.

It appears the growers are learning from organized crime groups in Canada's British Columbia, said Gordon Taylor, who oversees much of Northern and Central California for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In Canada, ethnic Vietnamese gangs use banks of growing lamps and other high-tech technology to produce "BC Bud," a strain of marijuana more than twice the strength of most street marijuana, he said. In the summer of 2006, Taylor said, police began to notice the indoor farms popping up in the Sacramento area, where 21 homes converted to marijuana factories were found in a month. Stockton police soon discovered 20 more, and still others were discovered in Tracy and Modesto. The two homes uncovered in Fresno in late October of this year fit the pattern.

"It's as if someone took a page out of the BC Bud handbook," Taylor said.



 (16) KING BONG  ( Top )

Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2007
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Page: Cover Story
Copyright: 2007 City of Roses Newspaper Company
Author: James Pitkin

Paul Stanford Is Oregon's "Drug Czar." Now He's Under Attack.

Paul Stanford should be at the top of his game.

After more than two decades growing, toking and agitating to legalize cannabis, the 47-year-old Portlander is now running the largest chain of medical-marijuana clinics in the nation.

Stanford spends half his time jetting between home and Honolulu, Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle, visiting his clinics that have helped thousands gain medical-marijuana permits. His nonprofit, The Hemp & Cannabis (ahem, THC) Foundation, is on track to rake in $2 million this year.

His headquarters in Southeast Portland is the center of Stanford's dank ganja empire. On a recent Monday morning, the folding chairs and overstuffed couches in the waiting room were filled with about 30 people--many looking as if they'd just rolled out of bed--who were busily scratching out applications for permits to toke.

If there is a kingpin of pot in Portland, it's Stanford--a man who can be credited with helping more people smoke legally here than anyone else. Of the 14,831 patients currently registered in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Stanford estimates more than half, 8,000, gained their license to burn with the help of his clinic.

"The goal of my life has been to end the adult prohibition from marijuana," Stanford says.

Oregon's medical-marijuana initiative, which Stanford helped pass in 1998, brought him one step closer and landed Stanford's clinics on the national map.

"He's certainly well known," says Allen St. Pierre, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C. Stanford is also winning accolades--on Dec. 15, he's set to receive the Freedom Fighter of the Year award from Oregon NORML.

But all is not well in Stanford's green-tinted world. Even his own daily dose of the herb can't dispel the fact that his five-state operation--and his own reputation--is under simultaneous attack from three quarters, each one a potent buzz-kill in its own right. Taken together, they're like dirty bong water spilled on a clean set of sheets.




Pubdate: Sat, 8 Dec 2007
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Nick Meo, in Balkh province

Where opium poppies used to colour the plains of northern Afghanistan, towering cannabis plants now sway in the wind, filling the air with their pungent odour.

Farmers in Balkh province were banned from cultivating opium last year and have switched to another cash crop, a rich source of income that is still tolerated by the authorities.

Balkh's burgeoning hashish industry does not pay farmers quite as much as the heroin factories used to for good-quality opium. But the rich black cannabis resin produced around the northern city of Mazar-i- Sharif still pays about four times the price of cotton or wheat. It is highly prized by Afghan users and is exported in large quantities to Pakistan and Europe.

Growing cannabis is nothing new for Afghan farmers, but the opium clampdown has transformed a minor cash crop into big business. The 2007 annual report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimated a 40 per cent rise in Afghanistan's cannabis production this year from 50,000 hectares (123,550 acres) last year to 70,000 hectares this year.

The switch from opium to cannabis is the latest embarrassment to Western attempts at eradication. It also illustrates the desperation of poor farmers.


Roadside stores keep hashish hidden among the onions and biscuits, producing thin sticks or sheets for users who drive out from Mazar-i- Sharif. "It is the best quality in Afghanistan," one shopkeeper said with a lazy smile. "I don't keep opium any more because it is too much trouble. But hashish is good business."

Unlike opium, cannabis is smoked by some farmers without serious social consequences. "The only thing is there seem to be more layabouts now that we grow so much cannabis." one said.


Some Western officials try to look on the bright side. One said: "At least they've gone from producing hard drugs to soft drugs. It's progress, sort of."



After an on-again, off-again cycle the past year, the latest from Prohibition Central in Washington D.C. is that aerial spraying will not happen in Afghanistan. "We have decided to stop pursuing the aerial spraying of poppy fields in Afghanistan," declared one U.S. official. The move, described as conceding "defeat", came after criticism of the aerial spraying plan from both the US-installed Afghan government and allies like the UK.

True to form, Canada's minority ruling Tories, while mired in scandal elsewhere, have plenty of time to propose punishing Canadian drug users in ever greater numbers - just like they do in the States. As the Tories' demagogue the drug issue, touting increased penalties for "dealers" (read: users) of "drugs" (pot), it is easy to see where this will lead: the wholesale jailing of cannabis users, just like in the States. "Legislation like this usually affects people at the lowest level, meaning the users," noted Maeve McMahon, professor of law and criminology at Carleton University.

In their sycophantic haste to curry favor with the U.S. Government, many nations passed harsh drug laws which imprison their own people for using plants like cannabis, which have been used traditionally for thousands of years. The same is true of India, which in 1985, passed The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. In this week's Times of India newspaper, legal commentator Rakesh Shukla describes this "draconian" drug prohibition law. "Statutorily created offences like those under the NDPS Act fall under the category of victimless crimes. There is no harm done to anyone by a person being in possession of marijuana or partaking of an opium-laced drink and there is no victim."

And in Thailand, kratom is "the rage" with "young Moslems", not to mention the "many insurgent suspects" who take kratom "before carrying out their missions of destruction." What is kratom, you ask? The leaves of the kratom tree (mitragyna speciosa), made into a tea. Police, who say the Khok Pho district is the source of the illegal tea, are upset that there is only a one-year jail term for using kratom. So police like to charge kratom drinkers under the Thai Medicines Act, which carries a five-year jail term for offences.


Pubdate: Fri, 07 Dec 2007
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Author: Anna Bawden

The U.S. government has conceded defeat in its attempt to persuade the Afghanistan government to begin the aerial destruction of poppy fields as part of its opium eradication strategy.

"We have decided to stop pursuing the aerial spraying of poppy fields in Afghanistan," said Thomas Schweich, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

US officials have climbed down in the face of widespread criticism from the Afghan government and other coalition partners, notably the UK.

Although attempting to destroy poppy crops from the ground can be dangerous, the Afghan government is against the use of aerial spraying because of fears about the herbicide glyphosate's effect on the environment, other smaller crops and on health.




Pubdate: Sat, 08 Dec 2007
Source: Charlatan, The (CN ON Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Charlatan Publications Inc.
Author: Alyssa McMurtry

Legislation proposed by the Conservative government Nov. 21, aimed at cracking down on drug crime is useless and even dangerous, according to Jody Emery.

Emery is co-editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, and is one of Canada's leading drug activists.

"This will be extremely expensive, ineffective and put a lot of people in jail that shouldn't or wouldn't be there otherwise," said Emery.

The proposed legislation is aimed at fighting drug crime by putting mandatory sentences on crimes such as grow operations and violent drug dealing for a range of drugs, including marijuana.

"Drug producers and dealers threaten the safety of our communities, they must face tougher penalties," said justice minister Rob Nicholson after introducing the bill, as reported by CanWest News Service.

"Because the big-time drug dealers don't worry about prison, it will be small-time grow-ops or family operations that will be put out of business by this," said Emery. "It should be legalized and government controlled if they want to stop organized crime."

"There is some indication that minimum sentences are not an effective sentencing tool: that is, they constrain judicial discretion without offering any increased crime prevention benefits," according to a report for the Justice Department released in 2001.

"I don't like mandatory minimums at all because judges make the decisions and I have confidence in judges for the most part," said Maeve McMahon, professor of law and criminology at Carleton University.


"Legislation like this usually affects people at the lowest level, meaning the users," said McMahon.

"If you look at somewhere like Holland where drug use is lower and certain drugs are legal you can see that this kind of system doesn't necessarily work in preventing drug use," he said. "In the U.S., the prison population is an absolute nightmare."

Canada's rate of imprisonment is about 120 people for every 100,000. It the States is more than 700 people per 100,000.



 (20) A DRACONIAN LAW  ( Top )

Pubdate: Mon, 10 Dec 2007
Source: Times of India, The (India)
Copyright: Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 2007
Author: Rakesh Shukla


The restrictions imposed on grant of bail under NDPS Act amount to virtual denial and ensure years of incarceration. Section 37(1) declares that an accused person is not to be released on bail unless the court has reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is not guilty and is not likely to commit an offence while on bail. This provision is identical to provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act which resulted in long periods of imprisonment without trial, evoking strong criticism from the human rights movement.


Sadhus smoking chillums on the ghats of the Ganga are a fairly common sight. However, the law in its majesty has forbidden the mere possession of charas and ganja.


Sections 17 to 20 prescribe stringent punishments extendable to 10 and 20 years' imprisonment with respect to use, possession, sale, purchase of opium, charas and ganja.

Generally, a person is punished for acts which cause harm to others, such as murder or theft. Statutorily created offences like those under the NDPS Act fall under the category of victimless crimes. There is no harm done to anyone by a person being in possession of marijuana or partaking of an opium-laced drink and there is no victim.

An offence comprises two elements, the specific action and the guilty mind or dishonest intention which leads up to it. According to criminal jurisprudence, it is the responsibility of the prosecution to establish both before a person is convicted and punished. However, NDPS Act dispenses with 'dishonest intention' and Section 35 directs the court to presume the existence of a culpable mental state for all the offences under the Act.


The larger jurisprudential question whether the state should criminalise vices needs to be debated. The assumption that those who practise vices like recreational drug use are mentally infirm and need to be protected from self-destruction is open to question.



Pubdate: Sun, 09 Dec 2007
Source: Bangkok Post (Thailand)
Copyright: The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2007
Author: Wassayos Ngamkham

As Thais rejoice over the 4x100 SEA Games gold medal in the women's relay event, police are fretting over the 4x100 formula, a drugs cocktail popular in the deep South.

The illegal mixture is made by brewing kratom leaves (mitragyna speciosa) in hot water and then mixing the dark green juice with a soft drink, cough syrup and tranquilisers. The popular cocktail has been named "4 times 100".


Police say Pattani's Khok Pho district is the centre of the kratom juice supply. It is adjacent to Songkhla's Saba Yoi district, particularly Ban Node, where kratom trees flourish naturally along many waterways.


Since a kratom leaf is only a category 5 narcotic, the maximum jail sentence under the act is only one year.

Pol Lt-Col Panya Karawanan said in many cases the court gave suspended sentences because the offenders were in their teens.

Police now use section 12 of the Medicines Act, which interprets the making of the cocktail as production of an unlicensed medicine, because it has cough syrup as an ingredient. This offence carries a maximum five years in jail.

"Since Islam prohibits drinking alcohol, many Muslim teenagers are turning to 4x100 to get high," Pol Lt-Col Panya said. "Many insurgent suspects admit they drank 4x100 before carrying out their missions of destruction."


It was unlikely users would go out on a serious crime spree, like shooting someone. But they were capable of committing minor crimes, such as illegally felling trees and scattering spikes, he said.


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


By Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet. Posted December 11, 2007.

1,200 activists and experts converged on New Orleans for the Drug Policy Alliance conference, where AlterNet won a prize for its drug war coverage.


Laura Carlsen - Director, Americas Program Center for International Policy


Transform Drug Policy Foundation


Cultural Baggage Radio Show

12/12/07 - NEW ORLEANS: DPA drug conference panel (2/2) with Norris Henderson, Else Pederson-Wasson, Judge Calvin Johnson + Nora Callahan re Sentencing & remembrance of Michael Paul Phillips



Transform Drug Policy Foundation


Winter 2007

Portable Document Format (PDF)


Washington, DC -- Marking the 74th anniversary of the repeal of national Alcohol Prohibition, (DRCNet) on Tuesday released polling results suggesting that drug prohibition's main supporting argument may be simply wrong. Drug policy reformers point to a wide range of demonstrated social harms created by the drug laws -- crime and violence, spread of infectious diseases, official corruption, easy funding for terrorist groups, to name a few -- while prohibitionists argue that use and addiction would explode if drugs were legalized. But is the prohibitionist assumption well-founded?


MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- At a press conference in front of Rudy Giuliani's Manchester headquarters this morning with a massive mobile truck billboard in tow, a representative of the Marijuana Policy Project joined two New Hampshire patients to challenge presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney to back up their statements regarding medical marijuana with scientific evidence, offering the legal maximum $10,000 campaign contribution to any of the three who can prove that their statements are true.



Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of reducing the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity, urge your members of Congress to support legislation and hold hearings on the issue.



By Jeff Bissonette

Marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes especially for cancer patients. My father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and passed away in August. The cancer really was not the killer but the chemotherapy was. He lost 7 to 8 pounds every treatment because he was unable to eat after the chemo.

My mother and I tried everything to get him to eat, but he said everything tasted terrible. So I told him he should try smoking some marijuana to increase his appetite, and he looked at me like I was nuts. But he didn't have much to lose at this point, so he tried it and he actually started putting weight back on - but it was too late.

For years, there's been natural drugs to cure us that the good Lord put on this planet for a reason, but our government is too caught up in the mighty dollar and how they can screw the public. If you want to see our trillion-dollar deficit disappear in a three-year-period of time, legalize marijuana. If patients get caught selling it, they can get such a steep fine they would never do it again. Or better yet, take it away from them all together. Our country is in terrible trouble financially, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, so legalize it and get the U.S. out of debt.

Jeff Bissonette

MSU staff

Pubdate: Wed, 5 Dec 2007
Source: State News, The (MI State U, MI Edu)


DrugSense recognizes Russell Barth of Ottawa, Canada for his ten letters published during November, bringing his total that we know of, accumulated since October, 2003 to 377. Russell includes the fact that he is a Federal Medical Marijuana License Holder in his letter signature block. Nearly all of his letters are published in Canada.

You may read all of his published letters at



By Mary Jane Borden

Have you ever seen a group of people put on a good face? Everything is alright. Just fine. If you just saw the surface, if you didn't wander beyond the "normalcy," you might miss a far different reality. That's the poignant truth of New Orleans.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) was warmly received in the heart of the Big Easy. Drug policy brought attention and badly needed tourism dollars to this wounded city. The recent DPA Conference proved to be one of the largest and most diverse in this issue's history, and both the city and the movement benefited from it.

The most groundbreaking moments launched the conference. DPA President Ira Glasser opened the gathering, followed by DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, who as usual offered moving and inspirational reasons why we do this important work. Over lunch, Dr. Antonio Mario Costa of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime gave the event's keynote address. Many of his ideas angered attendees, yet his presence signifies long-welcome change. Reform is now important enough to merit an address by those who, rightly or wrongly, control policy.

The most difficult decision of the conference involved choosing breakout sessions. Reflecting the issue, diverse topics ranged from drug testing to racism to needle exchange to law enforcement to medical marijuana to ibogaine to campus change to international polices to fundraising. The conference may also have been the most geographically and racially diverse one ever. The 1,200 attendees hailed from dozens countries and reflected the many faces and races of drug policy.

With any drug policy gathering, the best part happens in the halls. That's where new colleagues and old friends meet and mingle. Dinners and parties are also great places to engage in more in-depth yet casual conversation. Private meetings create the bonds that, when carried home, later serve as spring boards to future endeavors.

The conference location provided an easy segue into after hours activities. The Astor Crown Plaza aligned Canal and Bourbon Streets noted for first class restaurants and entertainment. It's strange, however, how New Orleans, famous for its "anything-goes" attitude toward booze and sex - Bourbon Street makes this undeniable - is deeply tied to cannabis prohibition. The smell of the herb permeates the place, but its imagery remains hidden and taboo. NOLA is no California.

That is again the poignant truth of New Orleans. Beyond the "normalcy" of Bourbon Street lies a far different, far worse reality. Hurricane Katrina excoriated an already fragile city with a long history of racism and poverty. The scars of this catastrophe inspire a single word: Wow! Have you ever seen a rusty, dented, weed-ridden Walmart? How about a boarded 12 story hotel? Or, countless homeless encamped under overpasses? Places like Pass Christine or the Ninth Ward become even more surreal after seeing them first hand.

The plight of this region as a result of both natural and manmade devastation was well documented at the conference. Beneath the New Orleans' outward appearance lies profound pain. It's a city that cries out for new ideas and options.

The DPA Conference was welcomed into the Big Easy because drug policy reform offers both. The event not only brought in people and money, but also common sense, compassionate, and cost effective solutions to one of the greatest modern day social injustices, the War on Drugs. As conference attendees understand, sensible drug policies can be transformative both to individuals and communities, a message that may resonate here more than anyplace else. Because of this, New Orleans was happy to host DPA, and DPA was equally pleased to help heal this wounded city.

Mary Jane Borden is a writer, artist, and activist in drug policy from Westerville, Ohio. She serves as Business Manager/Fundraising Specialist for DrugSense.


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